SF Bay Area – The Oakland Athletics Dave Kaval, Oakland City Council’s District Five Councilmember Noel Gallo, and Alameda County’s District 4 Supervisor Nate Miley, all appeared on KGO ABC Channel 7’s hosts Larry Beil and Kristen Sze televised and then Facebook Livestreamed broadcast (in full above) to talk about the Oakland Athletics Howard Terminal Ballpark Project, its political problems, and how to solve them.
But, let’s be frank: not one of these high-level officials will dare negotiate a deal in public, on television, in an environment they don’t control. Still, it was a nice try by Larry and Kristen, even if it just further exposed the communications and knowledge problems that have plagued Howard Terminal since SB 293 Skinner was signed into law in October 11th of 2019.
The end result was the continuation of a stalemate, with Alameda County’s Miley saying that they, being the County, feels like its being dragged into what is a City of Oakland situation. Nate’s my friend since the 1990s, and so I write this from that perspective: the fact is, he’s wrong. The moment the City of Oakland even considers the creation of a tax increment financing district, where property tax from that district is used to retire a bond issue to pay for development subsidies and public services, the part of that property tax that normally goes to Alameda County is lost to the County. That’s a fact.
It does not matter what’s built in the district, as long as the County agrees to the TIF process, that money is lost. Now, it’s money only from that district, and only impacts property owners who own land and buildings in that district – period.
Now, SB-293 Skinner, the legislation designed for the Oakland Athletics to build their ballpark at Howard Terminal, states that the tax increment revenue the district produces can be used for projects anywhere in Oakland, and selected by the not-yet-formed new Agency.
The simple fact that has not happened sends a signal that the City of Oakland intends to use its general fund as a backstop for the bond issue, even if the A’s or the Mayor of Oakland say otherwise. That means that if, for any reason, the tax increment is not large enough to pay for the annual bond debt service, the debt service reserve will have to be used, and if that’s not enough, the City of Oakland general fund itself. In order to prevent that from happening, the City of Oakland needs to make a new municipal organization to be the issuer of the bonds, and that’s where the new agency comes in. That agency needs to have its own revenue collection power such that it can change the bond structure and make other adjustments on its own, all to prevent default.
Nate should really stop saying Alameda County’s out of the sports business, because Alameda County was never in the sports business, it was in the facilities business. As long as my friend keeps saying otherwise, he will never understand the true impact of the legislation created for the Howard Terminal Project, let alone projects created under California “Enhanced infrastructure financing districts” legislation.
Everyone: Kaval, Miley, and Gallo, Must Memorize SB 293 Skinner
As I have said before, SB 293 Skinner is the key. If Nate Miley knew it, he would know he could negotiate to have special Alameda County Projects planned for Oakland to be financed by the bond proceeds. If he knew that, he would have a plan all ready to go, or at least his version of it. Moreover, Councilmember Gallo would have been able to communicate how the County would benefit to Supervisor Miley, even though it would prove that Nate forgot his California Redevelopment Law, as much as Gallo and Kaval never knew theirs.
Nate Miley Is Right: Key Parts Of The Process Of Forming The Howard Terminal District Are Not Done
Supervisor Miley is correct: they have not seen a proposed tax-sharing legislation, or a revenue plan. And the County has not seen anything from the point-person on the Howard Terminal Project. And who is that person? Is it Oakland City Administrator Ed Reiskin, who’s been hidden away from the public? Or is it Elizabeth Betsy Lake, the Deputy City Administrator who wrote the letter that exposed key deliverables not provided by the Oakland A’s, and showed that the A’s own sudden aggression put the entire project at risk?
The project lacks a recognized leader. The Mayor of Oakland does not understand the technics enough to talk without making a mistake, neither do the Councilmembers. I have 33 years of experience with economic development and tax increment financing in Oakland. The City of Oakland should hire me to be the point person, and put this project back on track.
Right now, it’s clearly derailed. And the A’s are looking at Las Vegas because the organization faces a less complicated government road than in Oakland; the only problem is the lack of public money from Nevada.
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